Luminous buried active galactic nuclei as a function of galaxy infrared luminosity revealed through Spitzer low-resolution infrared spectroscopy.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present the results of Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph 5-35 µm low-resolution spectroscopic energy diagnostics of ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) at z> 0.15, classified optically as non-Seyferts. Based on the equivalent widths of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission and the optical depths of silicate dust absorption features, we searched for signatures of intrinsically luminous, but optically elusive, buried active galactic nuclei (AGNs) in these optically non-Seyfert ULIRGs. We then combined the results with those of non-Seyfert ULIRGs at z< 0.15 and non-Seyfert galaxies with infrared luminosities LIR< 1012 L☉. We found that the energetic importance of buried AGNs clearly increases with galaxy infrared luminosity, becoming suddenly discernible in ULIRGs with LIR> 1012 L☉. For ULIRGs with buried AGN signatures, a significant fraction of infrared luminosities can be accounted for by the detected buried AGN and modestly obscured (AV< 20 mag) starburst activity. The implied masses of spheroidal stellar components in galaxies for which buried AGNs become important roughly correspond to the value separating red massive and blue less-massive galaxies in the local universe. Our results may support the widely proposed AGN-feedback scenario as the origin of galaxy downsizing phenomena, where galaxies with currently larger stellar masses previously had higher AGN energetic contributions and star formation originating infrared luminosities, and have finished their major star formation more quickly, due to stronger AGN feedback.
galaxies: active - galaxies: ISM - galaxies: nuclei - galaxies: Seyfert - galaxies: starburst - infrared: galaxies